Sunday, November 29, 2009


My name is Beth and I am an addict....

This has to be a sin.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving back, my boy makes me proud

When my (grown and almost grown) children were young we used to have lots of fun doing random acts of kindness. One of our favorite random a of k was to pay for a couple of the cars behind us at the two dollar car wash. The kids got the biggest charge out of parking near enough so they could see how excited the people got when they were told they were given a free car wash by a stranger.

Another favorite was to surprise a (couple of) Salvation Army bell ringer(s) with a cup of hot chocolate (usually from McDonalds) on a frigid night or we would treat the wheel chaired Veteran, collecting funds outside our bank in the sweltering heat, to a nice MickyD's iced tea.

The recipients of our random act(s) of kindness expressed such surprise, so much gratitude that the kids and I were on a natural high for hours.

They loved doing that. And so did I.

I know that I have three very big hearted children, but my big ol hairy Baby boy (he's 18) told me something yesterday (Thanksgiving morning) that just about made me bust my buttons.

"Mom" he said "the other night when I went to Kroger to turn in all my change" (this boy works pt time on the weekends refereeing rec basketball and has been saving his pay and all of the change he can manage to find, steal from his sister or the clothes dryer to buy his darling girl friend a birthday gift).

"It had turned pretty cold" he continued” and I saw one of those bell ringers outside the door."

“I went and got him a hot chocolate Mom, just like we used to do."

"You bought the ringer a hot chocolate?" I said, slack jawed "with your own money?"

"Yeah" he answered.

I've had many, many prideful moments with my children. Watching my boys play sports or my daughter sing on stage. Hearing nice things from their teachers on conference night. Why I've even felt a strange sense of pride when they are all spiffed up and I think to in the hell did I help to create something so damned cute???

But let me tell you....when your (too many times "all about me") teen does something like this....that sense of pride, well something like that can only be described as euphoric rapture.

It really was an out of body experience. I hope you get to go there sometime too.

Thanks for listening....

I absolutely heart this boy.....*sigh*

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rough & Toothless bakes a cake.....

My kitchen classroom is filled with juvenile offenders. They have mouths dirtier than gas station toilets. They try to out-thug each other by telling stories about the first time they smoked weed (usually about age 8 or so) or what happened the first time they stayed a weekend at JDF (Juvenile Detention Center) and had to prove “who” they were…fighting for a “position” in the pods (the community area where their individual cells are contained).

I fight with them constantly about the cussing. I won’t tolerate it. And trying to explain to a 6’1” juvenile criminal missing all of his front teeth and carrying around a bullet, lodged somewhere in his neck, that he can not, and will not, swear or talk about how he smoked crack once with his grandma, while in my kitchen.

All I can say is that there are days my job drains me of all my energy.

And my optimism.

Hectic and stressful, and many days are just plain freakin odd.

And scary too.

I often find myself thinking, “Why don’t you just bang yourself in the head with a rolling pin” that may get their attention. Or at the very would put me out of my misery.

Some days though, I know I’m in the right place.

And I know exactly why I am where I am…and I don’t even glance at the rolling pin.

Yesterday was one such day.

The (loveable) thugs and I worked on potato dishes and desserts for our Thanksgiving feast.

I hand picked a group of teens, including “RT” (Rough & Toothless, the one with the bullet) to make cakes.

I could tell by the way his hands shook while holding the egg that I handed him that he’d never cracked one before. I don’t like to call them out on things like that, it embarrasses them. So I joke with the group…”I know most of you have thrown eggs at houses or cracked them over someone’s head… but if you’ve not cracked an egg to cook with before, I want you to watch how it’s done.”

“ Hear me when I say…I   do   not   want   any   egg   shells   in   our   food.”

I demonstrate how to do it and they follow my lead. So proud, when they do it right.

I fight disgust too every day at my job…disgust at the unfairness of life.

I think of my own three children, and see them, a couple of neighbor kids, and me making chocolate chip cookies. How they would take turns cracking eggs and using the mixer. Then lick the beaters and wait for the hot cookies. When they were done we would eat them and watch movies.

Then I look at what is before me… a roomful of almost fully grown men (and women) who have never cracked an egg. Used a mixer. Had a mom express how proud she is of them.

No time for that when you’re smoking crack with grandma.

Or dodging bullets.

Or fighting for respect at JDF.

No time to learn to bake a cake.

Not all of them have shit for parents…but the ones that do, I gather more tightly under my wing.

Rough & Toothless loved making the cake. He hung on my every instruction. And it appears he may be a natural.

It was a hoot watching him fit the oven mitts over his large paws and I stifled a giggle when I taught him how to test for doneness using a toothpick. He jabbed it in and jerked it out like he got an electrical shock.

“Do it like this” I said “slowly, that way you can see if any of the batter sticks to the toothpick”

When one of the cakes, baking in a glass pan, was taking longer time to bake Rough & Toothless sat and watched.

He’s usually the first one out the door.

Class had been over for ten minutes and he was still waiting for it to be done.

“You go ahead and go” I told him. “I will stay and get your cake out. I promise I won’t let it burn”

Once more he checked it for doneness. Closed the oven. Pried off the mitts.

“Thanks Ma” he said as he left the kitchen “I’ll see you tomorrow”.

Some days I can’t believe I call my work a “job”.

Thanks for listening......

Frosting on RT's cake.

I had to bring the cake home with me...sadly, RT skipped school today :-(

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shedding my skin.......

"I'm a bitch, I'm a bitch, Oh the bitch is back"...Elton John

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed about a week ago and ever since then I've been feeling the incessant poke of a wild hair up my ass.

I should probably take a trip to the pharmacy for some IcyHot. It might help with the muscle I've been on too.

I don't like being this ugly. This surly. This crabby.

I'm filled with rage and aggravation every time I get behind the wheel.

And everyone in my path is either an asshole or a maniac.

Today, pulling into a store parking lot on a work related errand, my equally irritable coworker started to beat on the horn with both fists when someone (we couldn't see a head over the seat) driving an old silver Buick took at least 90 seconds to pull into a parking space.

After my coworker squealed the tires around the sloooooo driver I noticed what appeared to be nun garb on a teeny tiny woman driver.

"Oh my God" I said "You were beeping at a nun, you ass".

"That's not a nun" she snapped back.

"She's wearing a habit" I said.

"It's fake" she replied.

"What's fake? I asked.

"The nun. The nun is fake" she answered in her typical know it all tone.

"You can buy those things anywhere" she continued.

I think to myself..."Why would someone fake being a nun? Why would someone think someone would fake being a nun? Why would someone buy a habit to wear to the grocery store?....Why oh why oh why am I so surrounded by rambling idiots????

"A fake nun...oooookay" I say, with an overdramatic eyeroll.

Standing in a wayyy too long line at the store waiting to be checked out I have myself a little fantasy.

Once, just once, I would love to take leave of my senses long enough to start screaming at the people in line in front of me...I want to scream bloody murder...things like,

"HEY!!! Any check writers here?? Hows about we dig that ol check book out from the bowels of our overstuffed handbags and take a crack at getting started so we don't hold up this line any more than that bimbo slow poke cashier is already doing right now."

To the person behind me whose cart keeps bumping my ankles....

While I'm back back backin my butt up I'm gonna yell....

"BACK...BACK....GET BACK...GET BACK...BACK OFF...BACK OFF YOU FREAK...back off....give me some personal space here. If you or your rabid kid hits me with the cart ONE MORE TIME I'm going to pull the hairs out of both your noses one... at.... a.... time!!!!!"

I giggle to myself as I look around and think of how stinking funny it would be to blow a gasket like that....

Just the thought of the virtual breakdown has me feeling better.

Sometimes when I feel like this I wish my body had a zipper and I could just unzip myself and step out of this skin.

Walk away.

Start fresh.

Leave the ugliness of my mood behind.

When I leave the store I suddenly feel a bit better...

That is until we see the fake nun again...this time she is hobbling on her fake cane making her way to the Buick.

"Hurry up" my crabby coworker says, talking to me. "We don't want to get behind her again".

"Just so you know" I say to my coworker "there is no stop, drop, and roll in Hell".

Thanks for listening......

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Twenty two years ago right this very minute an angel came down to earth to live in my house. She has brightened and blessed my every single day since....

Dear Blue Sky…

When I prayed to God for the perfect daughter, I asked that she be beautiful on the outside, with eyes the color of cornflowers, and a smile that could light up any room, and I asked Him to add the most infectious laugh to go with that smile.

I asked Him to make her even more beautiful on the inside.

I asked that she always be kind and gentle and have a place in her heart for those less fortunate.

That she be tolerant and accepting of those who are different.

That she be the kind of person who never hesitates or is afraid to speak her mind or live her convictions.

That she be tireless in her quest for knowledge and allowed to delight in her every discovery.

I prayed that God would make her friendly and likeable and easy to talk to, and give her the gift of compassion and understanding, and also give her a steel determination in all places and times when she needs strength of character.

I prayed that she would be a leader, with vision and clarity.

That he give her a deep faith and a wicked sense of humor, and make her a loyal and true friend.

I asked that she have a determination to succeed and preserver in everything she does.

I hoped God would give her the voice of an angel and a small stubborn streak…with all these things in place one would have the most perfect of daughters, priceless beyond measure.

You sweet Julienne are living proof that God answers prayers.

She colored this for me a few months ago while at work at the church nursery.

With eyes the color of cornflowers. And chocolate frosting on her nose.

My beautiful birthday girl.....Happy birthday, love of my life!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dancing in Africa...

Many characteristics, physical and otherwise jump generations. Receding hairlines, chiseled jaw lines, overbites and even chutzpa…

Or maybe I should say especially chutzpa.

I admire those who possess it naturally and otherwise.

Chutzpa has a number of definitions, but for the sake of this story I am using my own, which include, gall, nerve, "balls”….

I’ve been called quirky, never brave or overly adventurous.

And while I’ve been called full of something, sadly, it had nothing to do with chutzpa.

Chutzpa, as a characteristic, seems to have played leapfrog over my back and landed right on top of the teeny tiny shoulders of my darling daughter.

“Bigger than my body gives me credit for” sings John Mayer.

Song lyrics fitting for the little 4 foot 11 inch spitfire that shares my DNA….but not my mousy ways.

I am in awe of this kid…and her very strange and interesting list of life goals.

She is graduating college in a few short months…and while I’m sure it’s been a long road for her, she has, most times, made it look almost effortless.

At the dinner table the other night she had a question for me…

“Uh, is there, uh, do you think, umm, will there be some kind of Graduating From College gift?”

“Sure” I said “what do you want?”

“I was thinking” she answered “that I would like Rosetta Stone”.

(Rosetta Stone is a Language Learning Program)

“Rosetta Stone…why?” I queried.

“Swahili mom” she said “I need it”.

SWAHILI???…Why not a nice watch?” I asked.

“I can test out of my language requirement for my Masters and it will help me to release my inner African” she said.

Chutzpa….some of us have it.

Hey Googie, a message for you…..

Mimi Tumaini Wewe Cheza (I Hope You Dance…in Swahili)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Undergarment…..

Yesterday, in the middle of the diarrhea attack I call my morning routine I lost my bra.

I remember it hanging from my middle finger and I remember putting it somewhere.

As I searched I tried to remain calm....It certainly wasn’t as bad as losing a pair of dirty underwear, or forgetting if you remembered to flush the toilet….but still.

I searched and searched for that bra. I opened cupboards and drawers and even the refrigerator.

I screamed at Daddio and the kids…”Has ANYONE seen my bra?” and “PleEEEEEEEESE, help me find my bra”.

Part of the embarrassment of losing the thing is that my Over The Shoulder Bolder Holder is not in the greatest shape.

By that I mean it is rather old and a tad dingy.

I have a few other bras…but most of those aren’t utility.

I suppose I could have worn one of them, but the only thing I could think of as I was rummaging through my lingerie drawer was “what if I should have a heart attack at work and the EMS guys have to slice my shirt and everyone standing around watching the heroic life saving effort sees me wearing a Fredericks of Hollywood issue black lace super-duper push up enhancement number, complete with fringe and silver studs???

How embarrassing would that be?

They’d never think of me the same.

I’m sure most women have lots of bras. I don’t.

Just like shoes and purses…you only need one of each color. Anything more, in my opinion, is wasteful.

Speaking of waste...I wasting a lot of time in search of that bra. And kept coming up empty handed.

My over active imagination went to work...with my luck a neighbor would pick today to come over and borrow a can of refried beans and come across my mislaid bra…”Who in this house is still wearing a training bra?” would probably be their first thought.

My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t ever find it and that later Bear or Trouble (Googie’s boyfriend) would stumble upon it.

I could envision it dangling from the cookie jar…or the back door handle.

God forbid, they would accidentally put their hand on it.


Eventually, due to the fact that I was beginning to run very late to work I was forced to stop looking and wear an old white rag I found in the bottom of my drawer.

The uncomfortable fit had me thinking about my missing brassiere all day long.

Being a creature of habit, I walked in the door after work and over to hang my coat…there, (right THERE all the time) on the coat peg was old faithful…hanging in all her dingy glory.

Smack-dab out in the open for the whole world to see.

I got momentarily sick to my stomach as I imagined all who may have come into contact with her (and their reaction) while we were apart.

No use crying over spilled milk, I guess.

This unfortunate ugly incident has forced me to make a decision I need to buy myself a couple of new bras…I do have an image to uphold.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Love heightens (only some of) the senses.....

As mothers we see our children as the most beautiful, the most talented, and the most wonderful.

I think God made it that way so that we become the mothers that he designed us to be.

You’ve heard the expression “a face only a mother could love.”

This phenomenon becomes acutely clear when you are introduced by a very proud mother to her newborn child.

She pulls back the receiving blanket and reveals a cherub that looks just like Uncle Fester.

“WOW” you quickly say…"now that’s a baby”.

You hope your startled look didn’t give away your true feelings.

The same holds true with our four legged children.

We are blinded by our love.

We suffer from anosmia.

“That dog smells like crap” the kids tell me.

“I don’t smell a thing” I say, nuzzling my pooch’s mane.

My sister, is a very good aunt, who loves my kids. She even once told our mother that my newborn oldest son had heart shaped nostrils. (He truly does, but Grandma thought Auntie was so blinded by love she was seeing things in hearts.)

She also loves my dogs. She scoops them up and lets them lick her hand. She always comments on their nice personalities and their round brown eyes….

I have some super cute Halloween pictures of my beautiful pups that I want to show her.....

“Now that’s a couple of dogs” she is certain to say.